Villafranca di Verona

The provinceof Veronais quite charming and lovely, so do yourself a favor and don’t limit your trip to Verona alone. Villafranca di Verona is a good place to start with, being a little gem full of history and monuments, located south ofVerona, in the so-called Basso Veronese region.

Short history

Verona's Roman Bridge ©

This place was, in Roman times, the meeting point of four major roads: Gallica, Claudia Augusta, Vicum Vironesium and Postumia. Its Roman origins are marked by the arch of Tiberius. In the Middle Ages, in 1185 more precisely, the Council of Verona gave autonomy to the small town, hence the name ’burgus’ libre or Villa Franca – the town with rights of free trade and travel. In 1796 Napoleon installed his headquarters here. Due to its strategic position betweenMantuaandVerona, Villafranca was involved in all of the events of the time. Furthermore, in 1859, it hosted Franz Joseph in his meeting with Napoleon III and the Peace of Villafranca ended the Independence War. During World War II, the city underwent Allied air attacks because its airport was used by the Germans (their military building can still be seen today near the aerodrome). In the 60s, the town began to develop and the airport was opened under the name of Valerio Catullo, having remained until todayVerona’s main airport.

What to visit

Piazza delle Erbe ©

Like any small town in northern Italy, this too has a main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which ends with the great Castello Scaligero, the symbol of the town. It was built in 1199 with the purpose of defending the borders of the province after the battle of Ponte dei Molini at Mantova. The Castle is not very large, it doesn’t overwhelm you but within the little town has an air of superiority, firmness and elegance. The main street is surrounded by buildings mostly built in the 18th and 19th centuries, with typical facades. When you look up the windows of these houses you get the feeling the behind each and every one is a Juliet, young and beautiful, awaiting for a talented young man to sing her a serenade. The Obelisk built in 1880 and rebuilt in 1888 (after being hit by lightning) serves to remember the heroic deeds of soldiers from 49 Infantry Regiment which in 1866, during the third Italian Independence War, have bravely defended the land against the Austrian troops. The monument is a square at the base supported by four legs of a lion and an obelisk on top of which there is a bronze star. Any local will proudly tell you the legend according to which that is the place where a poor farmer living in the area gave some water to drink, from a trivial bucket, to Prince Umberto ofSavoy himself. Furthermore, the town cathedral, built in the 17th century is a copy of theRedentoreChurch inVenice, Palladio’s famous work.

I bet you didn’t expect as much from Villafranca di Verona. This little town breathes so much history that you cannot remain untouched in face of its greatness. If you plan to stop at least an hour in this picturesque place, find a few minutes in your trip and just listen to the stories hidden behind every old wall, every old building, every old window …

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